Labelling Theory Essay

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What is seen as deviant and criminal behaviour has been redefined numerous times throughout history. Some sociologists argue that deviance has been around since before the time of Christianity, madness (Deviance) was seen as a sign of demonic/supernatural possession. Similarly, with the Ancient Greeks who also saw deviance as a sign of something demonic or angelic. Furthermore, with the rise of prominent theorists/sociologists such as Émile Durkheim and Edwin Lemert, sociologists have established many theories when looking at deviance, such as labelling theory. Labelling theory is the tradition that ‘seeks to understand behaviour through one’s interactions’ (Chicago School). This essay will critically assess the importance of labelling theory …show more content…

However, labelling theory like any other perspective has its flaws. Critics have argued that this theory ignores factors such as family upbringing, peer relationships and location of individuals’ early life, hence this theory does not identify the root cause of crime (Davis 1972). Nonetheless Becker (1963) rebukes this analysis arguing that labelling is seen as a perspective, a glance at human undertaking, and thus details the steps of social control. In Becker’s later work, he added that deviants, despite the labelling, is not the main clarification of what these individuals (youths in particular) actually participate in Becker (1973). As with Davis’ critique, Braithwaite (2002) states that some individuals already have established negative labels from institutes such as the home and a school, henceforth the labelling process is to blame rather than the criminal justice system itself.
In conclusion, labelling theory or symbolic interactionism is important to the criminal justice system because it allows officials to examine how society perceives offenders once labels have been administered. Despite its many critiques, disadvantages and consequences; this theory in some cases can prevent youths from committing future crimes as well as diverting them from the criminal justice system to ensure law abiding

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